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It is not difficult in most overhead cam engines. The lifters are easy to get to taking off the cover(s). The problem is that lifters are seldom the entire fix for the problem. Usually, the valves and valve seats need work, and sometimes the cam shafts, so the entire head has to be removed. When you remove the head ALWAYS USE NEW BOLTS and torque them to the manufacture's specifications IN THE CORRECT TORQUE ORDER. Use a new head gasket too and break the engine back in as you would a new car for the first 2K miles. There is a discrete pattern for tightening the head, use it! Find a good machine shop before you get started. Line the engine up to TDC first and make an index mark so you can see if it's moved on you to realign it easily to keep your timing in spec.
Did you change the cam and lifters or just the lifters? New lifters and an old cam may not spin properly. They are suppose to wear in together. Replacing one and not the other can make it worse than it was. Always replace them as a set. I'm not one for engine additives. You can try replacing a quart of Lucas Oil in place of one of the quarts of oil in your engine.
I find it hard to believe that it runs fine but, to replace either, you need to remove the intake manifold. Likely you will find both items in the lifter galley. Before dropping a lifter in there, make sure the cam lobe is still good....If the old lifter is severely worn on the cam end, likely it's not. After replacing the parts, but before replacing the valve cover and manifold, turn the engine by hand and make sure that the valve opens and rocker travel is the same as all others. The r&r is covered in haynes and chilton manuals. One tip is to always use washers on any bolt that attaches the manifold to the heads to spread the torque load and yes, always torque any aluminum manifold to prevent warpage.. If either part has fallen into the oil pan (unlikely) it actually can stay there forever without harming anything.
hi, on your vehicle the valves are not adjustable after about 1990 they started using hydraulic lifters, so if you have top end engine rattle then the chances are these lifters will need replacing or worse case the cam lobes could be worn if this is the case then your going to need to do a top end rebuild.
to replace the hydraulic lifters your going to need to remove the cams so as you can get to the lifters under neath the cup they sit under so its quite a big job.
the older type valves were a lot easier as you could adjust them with screwdriver and measuring guages but they started using the new ones as they made less noise and lasted longer, but the downside to this was that you need to do more work to replace the lifters.
let me know how you get on or if you need further assistance ok
should be able to rebuild. sounds like you will need a new cam and lifter set. Cam and lifters could be replaced without completely rebuilding engine, but I wouldn't recomend it. All the metal from the cam and lifter goin down will have already gone through your oil system therefore engine really needs complete disassemble and cleaned.
I also would recommend replacing the timing chain and timing gears since you are going to have to take the timing chain off anyhow.
You will also need the associated tools to do the job, plenty off rachets, box wrenches and such.
If you are doing mechanical lifters you will also a feeler gauge to measure the valve clearance and make adjustments.
I cant think of anything else off the top of my head.
If you are doing a cam with more lift then I would recommend replacing your valve springs as well, it is easy and it will assure you do not incur valve float. You will have to take the rockers off when you install the new lifters because you have to remove the pushrods. I also recommend you replace the pushrods while you are at it, they are cheap. You will need a valve spring compressor and new valve springs and locks, they are pretty cheap.
Since you already have had it apart, you know at what point you can see the lifter. Lifter pulls straight up out of its bore, new one drops right in. If cam contact surface is worn concave, you need to replace cam as well. Always use assembly lube on lifter/cam contact surface when installing.